Manchester terror attack instilled unity, rejected religious discrimination

On May 22, the UK suffered its deadliest terror attack since the events of 7/7 in 2005. The suicide bomb attack at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena killed 22 innocent civilians, several of them children, and injured another 119.

The attack was described by UK Prime Minister Theresa May as “among the worst terrorist incidents [the UK had] ever experienced.”

Such terrorist attacks naturally strike fear and raise countless questions: What did security services know about the attackers? Could they have done more to stop the attacks? Where will the terrorists strike next?

As the nation was left stunned by the barbaric incident, such events can bring unity or drive a wedge with the Islamic community and heighten discrimination, something the attacks try to inspire.

However, the attack by the radicalized Briton of Libyan decent, Salman Abedi, served to unite the country.

Terrorism and Islam are often used side-by-side, and such implications are a prelude to religious divide in the West.

Ironically, Abedi’s family ran to the sanctuary of the UK from the dictatorial regime of Colonel Gaddafi. The freedoms Abedi and his family enjoyed in the UK could not be replicated in Libya today, let alone under Gaddafi.

The UK is a place of harmony and co-existence between dozens of ethnic communities and religions.

The actions of Abedi and his terrorist network constitutes a very small minority that does not represent Islam.

Calls by some popular figures in the country that the Islamic community should do more is a narrow-minded motion.

The actions of a few extremists, who managed to slip through the complex UK security network, should not be pinned on the lack of action from the Islamic community.

The response of the Muslim community was to greatly condemn the attack, organize vigils, and show solidary in Mosques with ubiquitous posters of “We love MCR.”

Displays of defiance from the Muslim community dispel the goal of terrorists to promote the concept that such attacks are sanctioned by Islam.

Ironically, the greatest victims of terrorist attacks in general by Islamic groups are Muslims themselves.

Divisive rhetoric or policies as a response to terror attacks or threats from the Islamic State (IS) pushes communities further apart and, more importantly, leads to public misinformation about the foundations and spirit of Islam.

Such rhetoric was a cornerstone of US President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, leading to an outcry that did more harm than good for the values of democracy and pluralism of the US.

Recently, Trump refrained from one of his favorite phrases, “radical Islamic terrorism,” a term rejected by many.

Trump’s attempts to impose a travel ban on citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries hit a stumbling block in US federal courts with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stating the proposal “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

Trump may have recently toned down his rhetoric connecting terrorism and Islam, but his Ramadan address was still dominated by the battle against terrorism.

The White House statement read: “This year, the holiday begins as the world mourns the innocent victims of barbaric terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom and Egypt, acts of depravity that are directly contrary to the spirit of Ramadan.”

The report added that “such acts only steel our resolve to defeat the terrorists and their perverted ideology.”

The statement reiterated a key part of Trump’s message on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, “America will always stand with our partners against terrorism and the ideology that fuels it.”

Islam is not a threat; it is the rhetoric that stereotypes Muslims based on the extremist actions of a few.

In contrast to Trump, George W. Bush’s Ramadan statement in 2001 did not mention terrorism at all, just months after 9/11.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts to connect Britain’s involvement in military action abroad and such terror attacks in Manchester, was largely rebuked.

The perpetrators of the Manchester attacks were part of a small circle. The violence should not be an excuse for the UK to regress from its global obligations in the battle against terror.

Moreover, extremist ideology can come from anywhere, not just Islam. The decades of deadly IRA attacks on the UK is one such example.

As sickening as the attacks in Manchester were, the West should not ignore that terrorist attacks anywhere are unfortunate and sorrowful.

Days after the Manchester attack, militants in Egypt killed at least 28 Coptic Christians, which received little coverage.

Victims of terror span across religions and ethnicities and the war on terror is not linked to one country or continent. It requires global and regional unity.

Today, the Kurdistan Region finds itself at the forefront of the fight against IS.

Supporting regional forces such as the Peshmerga is the most effective way to ensure peace in the UK and the West, not just through localized reactions in respective countries.

First Published: Kurdistan 24

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